Prescott eNews
May 21, 2024 5:11 AM
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Opinion – Yavapai College: Driving Yavapai County’s Workforce

Yavapai College operates six campuses and centers throughout Yavapai County, serving its students and communities with exceptional academic programs, economic development, and cultural enrichment activities.

The college’s average age student is 30, and this past year, 1,750 students graduated with 1,981 degrees and certificates. The youngest graduate was 15 years old from Yarnell, and the oldest graduate was 79 years old from Prescott Valley. YC’s first bachelor’s degree student walked across the stage with her degree, signifying a truly transformational moment in the traditional community college expectation.

1,750 individuals now enter the county’s workforce or have upskilled their careers to provide a better life for their families and contribute to the county’s economy. A total of 65% of Yavapai College’s academic programs lead to living wage jobs in Yavapai County, and one out of 33 jobs in the county are supported by the college and its students.

The college’s academic programs directly support local businesses and industries with the trained employees that they desperately need. YC trains our healthcare workers, including our nurses, radiologists, CNAs, LPNs, technicians, and allied health professionals. It trains our police through the Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy, the only police academy in northern Arizona. It trains our firefighters, HVAC technicians, plumbers, electricians, construction workers, automotive repair workers, line workers for APS, CDL drivers for our buses, and truck drivers. YC now offers bachelor’s degrees in business and nursing, which critically impact the residents of our county.

These are just examples of the training and education that YC provides right here, in our county where our residents do not have to go to Phoenix or elsewhere to fulfill their dreams.

The college does this despite receiving less than 3% of its budget from the state. The District Governing Board has the ability to raise the primary property tax levy by 2% each year, and that 2% accrues if not used. The Board has only approved a tax increase twice since 2018, despite the significant increase in operational costs and inflation. This included no tax increases during the pandemic. According to a recent economic impact study, YC adds $203.7 million dollars to the Yavapai County economy annually, a value approximately equal to 2.2% of the county’s total gross regional product (GRP).

Where would Yavapai County be without Yavapai College? Where would our healthcare workers, skilled trades workers, and technicians come from? The cost of living in our county is too high to attract families here. A disheartening 20% of YC students already report that they are homeless. This alone shows the need for the College to buy the Prescott Pines property to address student housing. How can we expect students to get an education if they don’t have a safe and consistent place to live?

As the chair of the Yavapai College District Governing Board, these are the considerations that we must take into account when the Board considers a property tax levy. The College has visionary leadership led by President Dr. Lisa Rhine. The faculty and staff work tirelessly to support our students and to provide the Board with a transparent and fair budget proposal every year.

If we do not fund the college, what does our future look like? Will we have police, firefighters, healthcare workers here? Will small businesses and larger industries be able to survive in our county without a pipeline of trained employees?

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2 Responses

  1. Deb Mccasland is a no nonsense conservative. Prior to her election to the YCCC board there were annual increases driving up our property taxes. Now, with horrendous inflation, balancing any budget is a difficult act but with new leadership at YCCC a much more practical management team has produced efficiencies but inflation requires this necessary increase. Remember, there has not been annual increases as before Ms Mccasland and others were elected.

  2. Why is Yavapai College taxing us out of our homes? My property taxes to YC are approaching $1000 a year. Need to find another way. AZ is totally off track on funding of local colleges. We get a big surplus and what do they do? Build another beltway around Pheonix. Never knew this when I moved here.

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